Catholics Prominent In Queen's Birthday Honours

Catholic Communications, Sydney Archdiocese,
12 Jun 2018

Rebecca Davies

Catholics have once again featured prominently on the Queen's Birthday Honours List this year. Awarded for their service to the community in a variety of fields from education, healthcare, outreach and to the Catholic Church in Australia, many of them say they are humbled and surprised by the honour.

Ms Rebecca Davies AO of Edgecliff, was honoured for her service to medical research, particularly in the area of Juvenile Diabetes and heart health, and to the Sydney Archdiocese.

"I'm just blown away. It was so unexpected," she told The Catholic Weekly.

She became involved in research into Juvenile Diabetes after her daughter was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes.

Ms Davies has worked and volunteered with several organisations including the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, the Heart Foundation, the National Health and Medical Research Council and the Australian Health Ethics Committee. She also serves on the Finance Council and the Development Fund Board of the Sydney Archdiocese.

"My faith talks to me about the need to use whatever gifts I have for the benefit of the community," she said.

"That's where we are Christ's hands and feet in the world. That's why I'm so passionate about healthcare and medical research, because that makes a real difference to people's lives in a very tangible way."

Ross Tarlinton OAM of East Ballina, who has worked in Catholic and state education over his extensive career in schools, said the award was "a great honour".

"I was quite surprised. It's a bit of a fuss for just doing your job. I think it's actually a reflection of the great leaders I've worked with in various institutions, both Catholic and government."

Mr Tarlinton was Principal at several Catholic schools including St Joseph College in Hunters Hill, Marist College in Canberra and St Joseph's College Tweed Heads.

Bernie Fehon OAM

He said working with young people was the best aspect of serving in education, in particular being able to "provide balanced opportunities" to them.

"Providing opportunities to grow in their faith as well as to grow physically and spiritually has been an honour," he said.

The founder of the annual Vinnies CEO Sleepout, Mr Bernie Fehon OAM, was awarded for service to the community through social welfare programs.
The initiative, begun in winter of 2006, has raised around $42 million for St Vincent de Paul throughout the country since its inception and has become one of our 'best exports' says Bernie, who lives in Blaxland.

This year on 21 June, 1400 CEOs will take part in locations around Australia with $2.7 million already donated.

"While I had the idea it only took off because a small group of other people though it was a good idea and committed to it, and it's only grown because dozens and then thousands of people have taken part.
"It's been a real joy for me personally to be on that journey."
Receiving the honour was "a bit unexpected and a bit surreal, the sort of thing you think happens to other people", he said.

Mrs Margaret MacMillan OAM of Wahroonga has run a support group in her area for those suffering from Alzheimer's and their carers for several years now. The mother of six said she feels "very humble" after receiving the Queen's Birthday Honour.

"I think there's a lot of people more deserving than myself," she said.

The support group meets once a month to listen to guest speakers and Mrs MacMillan also helps put on a lunch once a month for those with Alzheimer's or Dementia, and their carers.

She said she would like to give Alzheimer suffers and their carers "a day off" and also "the understanding that they can cope".

As a member of Holy Name Parish in Wahroonga, she said her Catholic faith has been a major influence in her life and in her children's lives.

"We've been very privileged and it's done our kids good," she said.

Ninety-five year old Sr Mary D'Apice AM from Bronte, who entered religious life in 1946, as a Sister of the Society of the Sacred Heart, has worked in education over several decades. Also a medical doctor, she has lectured for many years on spirituality and human development.

Sr D'Apice said she always hoped to impart in her students "an understanding of their own development so it could help them in their own lives".

She says the Catholic faith has always shaped her life and aspirations.

"It's been the background to my whole life," she said.

"I'm grateful really that the Church has been recognised and the role of religious."